AFTER surviving the turmoil caused by Typhoon Odette last week, Kabankalan City has safely observed the 46th Sinulog festival recently with a theme, "Señor Sto. Niño Kaupod sa Paghiliusa sa Pagbangon sang Tanan (Señor Santo Niño companion in unity and rising)."

Kabankalan City Mayor Pedro Zayco with his fellow city officials, Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson and former Sixth District congresswoman Mercedes Alvarez led the observance of the city's annual celebration safely since there is still the threat of coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

Unlike in previous years, there were no fanfare not only because of the threat of the Omicron variant of SarsCov2 that causes Covid-19 but also because Kabankalanons are still recovering from the wrath of the catastrophe that affected many.

Instead, the religious significance of the annual festival remained at the core of the celebration with the holding of a mass in honor of their patron saint Señor Santo Niño.

Alvarez and husband Philippine Army's 1st Scout Ranger Regiment Major Dranreb Lansang dressed their twins Francis and Asher in Santo Niño green robe by Kelly Cuachon while watching the procession.

The couple said this is in honor of Kabankalan City’s patron saint.

Her prayers were “O miraculous Santo Niño, we come before Your sacred image, moved by love and by hope, we beseech You to look mercifully into my troubled heart. Let Your tender love so alleviate our sufferings. Take from us, if it is Your will, all afflictions and never let us surrender to despair. Grant us, Señor Santo Niño, the special grace we ask from You today, in all humility and with loving trust, and for the sake of Your sacred infancy, always hear our prayers, be generous with Your aid and consolation, that we may praise You and the Father, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.”

She added that, "I will dance every year, carrying you, as long as my body can handle it ... for both of you are gifts from God through the intervention of Santo Niño. Viva Senior Santo Niño! Father, we thank You for your relentless love, for never giving up on each one of us. May Your grace continue to shepherd us this 2022. Please restore and help us not surrender, for we know You are with us and will always be. In Jesus' name. Amen."

Meanwhile, the governor was welcomed by Mayor Zayco, Vice Mayor Raul Rivera, Board Member Jeffrey Tubola, and former 6th District Rep. Alvarez, among others.

Lacson said it is inspiring to see the resiliency of the people of Kabankalan because of their faith.